The first time that Nicki had worked at the store, the customers had been predicable: grease monkeys and car junkies, contractors and the rough-and-ready type of women. Every bill had oil stains on it and every hand was dirty, greasy and callused.
Things had certainly changed since then, now you never knew what to expect. Designers came in looking for sleek, modern looks for interior decorating, avid gardeners rambled through the outdoor shop and garden sections reworking their landscaping ideas and sports-nuts drooled over the latest tech for rec. Some people even came in for the basic grocery shopping.
The store had expanded both through massive renovations, as well as a far greater range of products being sold. City slickers mingled with farmers and young kids dodged around their elders; anything you could ever need or want could be found in these aisles. At least, that’s what the promoters claimed.
As a cashier making just over minimum wage, watching people spend cash without thought was incredibly depressing.
Some customers were the type who liked to brag: “It’s so hot out there, but luckily we can afford to buy an air conditioner, so we just stay inside all day.”
Others tried to justify their purchases: “I suppose buying a trampoline for the grandkids is a little silly, but well, we just love having them around, you know…”
Some barely responded to the mandatory, “Hello! How are you today?” while others insisted on telling you their life stories, “So then, my brother-in-law starting going on about how important it is to have the duct work cleaned regularly and now my husband is determined to clean out ours…”
The one lesson that seemed to stay the same over the years was that the general pubic is rude, loud and often downright mean. Nicki wanted track down the idiot who had first said, “The Customer is Always Right” and give him/her a serious kick in the rear. Truth is: the customer is always WRONG. They misread signs, they don’t understand the idea of inventory, pricing policies confuse them and sometimes they simply lie right to your face.
Anyone who says in an interview that they “love working with the public” is lying through their teeth. What that phrase actually means is that that person has worked with the public before and understands just what that entails. Ultimately it means “I know how to smile and nod like a total idiot even when someone is screaming in my face.”
A cashier has to wear a stupid uniform, smile until her jaw aches, stand in one place for several hours and just generally put up with a lot of disrespect. A good cashier is someone who can do all this and still look like she is happy and helpful. A good cashier is hard to find.
Stores get bigger, products change and more services slowly become available. These are things that are constantly changing. What will never change is that a cashier or anyone who works in retail, will always hate the general public because the general public are generally jerks.
It takes more than many know to be a good cashier. One nice, understanding and moderately talkative customer can make a cashier’s shift.
One great thing about working in this store, thought Nicki at the end of her shift, is that it makes you love your home so much more.
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